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News | Nov. 19, 2019

821st ABG commander visits Canadian Forces Station Alert

21st Space Wing public affairs

At the invitation of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Col. Timothy Bos, 821st Air Base Group commander at Thule Air Base, Greenland, visited Canadian Forces Station Alert Oct. 30 2019, to foster the long-standing partnership between CFS Alert and Thule AB, and to learn more about their mission. 

While at CFS Alert, the northernmost permanent settlement in the world at 82 degrees north latitude, Bos received a mission overview, toured the facilities, and ate lunch with RCAF Airmen and civilians.

“The partnership between the U.S. at Thule and Canada at CFS Alert goes back to 1956, and is critical for the success of both our missions. We operate in the same harsh Arctic environment, so we face very similar challenges and can learn a tremendous amount from one another,” Bos said. “I was amazed at the close-knit family atmosphere at CFS Alert, given that they operate with less than 100 personnel. Everyone on base has two or three different jobs. I also laughed when Alert personnel told me how much they loved staying overnight at, a sprawling Thule AB during their transits to and from Alert.”   

Bos was transported to CFS Alert via a RCAF C-130 Operation BOXTOP mission, which provides cargo resupply and personnel movement through Thule AB. BOXTOP is a semi-annual event that occurs in the spring and the fall, depending on the weather. During the operation, more than 100 Canadian Forces inhabit Thule AB for the two-week resupply mission of CFS Alert and Eureka, a town in Nunavut, Canada.

During these missions, crews battle strong winds, low ceilings and visibility, and a slick runway as they make the 440 nautical mile flight north from Thule to Alert. Arctic weather conditions are extremely difficult to predict, and bitter cold temperatures can hinder operations.

Operation BOXTOP began in 1956 and has continued to enable the transport of critical resources to the northernmost inhabited place in the world. 

“Thule AB and its personnel take pride in their key role of being the sole supply chain link for Canadian Forces Stations Alert and Eureka,” Bos said. “Additionally, BOXTOP provides Air Force personnel with a unique opportunity to witness joint logistics along with the challenges of operating in the Arctic.”